This figure shows the heterogeneity of cancer ...

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So, what do you think a cure means to you?  It probably means something like…not having cancer for the rest of your life after a particular treatment…or something like that?  Is that right?  Isn’t that what a patient who has cancer might think if he/she was talking about a cure?  Well, unfortunately this is not the case in medical terms and what scientific publications mean when they talk about cure.  When clinical folks talk about cures…they are referring to the ability of a certain treatment to extend the life of a patient without any symptoms of the disease for five years.  Not for life!  Thus, progression free survival for five years defines a cure.  Why do I bring this up?  It is because a patient should know this when they talk to an oncolgist or read scientific literature and not assume that a cure means for life.  Actually, what we in the medical community should do is replace the word ‘cure’ with something else.  We should not use that term if we don’t mean what people on the street mean.  I think many in the media are also not aware and thus, they report on cure for this and that without really being accurate in any way.  So, please be careful about using the word cure…please don’t allow expectations to be too great in terms of cures for most cancers.  We are working on it but we are not there yet! 


4 thoughts on “Cure

  1. Charlie, thank you for this information. I have to admit I had no idea that “cure” didn’t mean “forever.” So many times we see things on TV or hear people talk and wonder why “it didn’t work.” This opened my eyes.

  2. Thanks Charlie for making this clear. I thought CURE meant for life. You’re doing a wonderful thing. Keep up the GREAT work you do!

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